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Officials detail new housing support team, racial inequity in Missoula's homeless

Photo: NBC Montana Sky Team
Photo: NBC Montana Sky Team
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The Poverello Center updated their supporters on city and county efforts to help the unhoused population on Tuesday, saying they’re seeing more people experiencing homelessness for the first time.

The city created a new housing team called the Housing Support Mobile Care Team. They’ll go to new homeless camps soon to be established by Operation Shelter, a city-county initiative, and existing homeless resources like the Poverello Center or winter emergency shelters. The goal is to connect the homeless with housing and services through the Missoula Coordinated Entry System.

Emily Armstrong, the city’s Reaching Home program manager, said the city provided funding for the new team, and they’re waiting for the county’s contribution. We reached out to the city to see how much they spent on the team, and we’re waiting to hear back.

Armstrong says the bigger issue is equity.

“What we’re seeing is that it’s not great. It reflects what's similar across the country and what we already know, which is that there is significant racial inequities in houselessness, and this data highlights it very clearly,” said Armstrong.

Their data shows that 91% of Missoula is white, but only 63% of Missoula’s homeless are white.

Native Americans make up 1.6% of Missoula, but 14.5% percent of the homeless. Armstrong says one-third of homeless deaths are Native Americans.

Armstrong says they’re trying to build better systems to respond to racial inequity in the homeless population.

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